These are early days, and only 15 out of the country's 81 Free Schools have both been inspected and had results published, but two thirds of these have now been judged ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted – which itself introduced a more rigorous inspection regime last September.
Canary Wharf College has joined ARK Conway Primary Academy in Hammersmith in being judged ‘outstanding’ in its first inspection since opening in 2011. Michael Gove has said that “for a school to be rated outstanding within just two years is quite some feat".
The free schools rated ‘good’ are West London Free School in Hammersmith; Langley Hall Primary Academy in Slough; Woodpecker Hall Academy in Edmonton; Aldborough E-ACT Free School in Ilford; Etz Chaim Jewish Primary School in Barnet; Bristol Free School; Krishna-Avanti Primary School in Leicester and Rainbow Free School in Bradford.
Woodpecker Hall, the Bristol Free School, the West London Free School and Krishna-Avanti Primary School are rated outstanding in some categories. Nishkam Free School, Batley Grammar School in Kirklees, Kings Science Academy in Bradford and Sandbach School in Cheshire are judged to ‘require improvement’.
Discovery New School has been rated as inadequate. It will now be subject to monitoring visits
from Ofsted, which will judge whether
the school makes sufficient progress before any subsequent action is
The Department for Education says that the proportion of Free Schools rated 'Good' or 'Outstanding' is broadly
in line with all state schools inspected since the introduction of the new framework.
Secretary recently approved 102 new free school
applications to open in 2014 and beyond. A further 109 are aiming to open in September and beyond. In
total, all currently approved free schools would deliver 130,000 new
school places when full.
Over two million pupils are now taught in academies – more than one in four of England's 7.3 million state school pupils in England. These are concentrated in the secondary sector, in which the proportion of pupils at academies is 54 per cent.
There were 203 sponsored and converter academies when Gove became Education Secretary in 2010. Now there are 2886. There will be different views of the Government's most successful inititiave to date, but I would put Gove's push for academies near the top of the queue.